Workers Party North Belfast representative, John Lavery, has hit out at the failed economics of the Stormont Assembly following the release of figures which show that – 59,100 are on Northern Ireland’s unemployment register. “This is the highest level of unemployment since February 1998”, said Mr Lavery. “And when the cuts start biting, which they will very soon, jobs will start disappearing at an even higher rate. The Ulster Bank expects NI’s official claimant count to rise above 70,000 within the next 18 months. We have to add to that figure those people who have given up looking for work but would take a job if they had the chance. Eight per cent of the economically inactive, i.e. around 44,800 people, fall in to this category. This figure is from September last year so it’s certainly higher now. But we can say that there are at least 103,000 unemployed workers in Northern Ireland.”
Mr Lavery was particularly scathing in relation to youth unemployment. “The number of workers under 25 who are unemployed stands at 18,652, down from September 2010’s peak of 19,200 but at 6.6% in February 2011, this figure is more than 2% higher than the UK figure (4.5%). When the Belfast Agreement was signed, there was a lot of talk about an economic peace dividend as construction and inward investment and shopping would bring good times for all. Well, we did have a boom and jobs growth fuelled by an insane property bubble. But those days are long gone. The level of youth unemployment today is almost one third higher than it was in April 1998.”
“Moreover, male unemployment has recently moved into double‐digits (10.1%) and the incidence of part‐time work is rising at the expense of full‐time work with 1 in 5 of all part‐time workers currently looking for full‐time work but unable to find it. The average weekly hours worked by individuals within NI has been falling and currently stands at 31.9 hours per week down from 34.7 hours per week prior to the recession.”
“We cannot blame Sinn Fein the DUP and the other Stormont Coalition parties for the global recession but we can blame them for the cack -handed way they have dealt with this crisis. Instead of placing hope in the foreign corporations as providers of jobs, or attempting to turn Northern Ireland into a tax haven, which will only benefit the richest in our society, we need a policy of directly funded job creation in agreed areas of need. This employment strategy may not accord with what bankers and bosses of corporations regard as ‘sound economic policy’. But we’ve seen what their policy has done around the world and it’s time to try something new”, Mr Lavery concluded.
Issued: 12th April 2011